Tuesday, 20 June 2017
Topical Issue Debate
The Deputy raises a number of matters. First, it is not industrial or toxic waste; it is solid recovered fuel, which is material from municipal waste across the country. I wish to be quite clear about that. Toxic waste must be dealt with outside of this country.
To come to the other specific points the Deputy has raised, I understand where he is coming from regarding the issue of policing, but the reality is that the EPA has issued enforcement proceedings against a number of businesses. I do not have the figures off the top of my head but I will get them for him. It has forced the closure of a particular business in this country because of the impact of its operations on air quality, so yes, it has used its teeth. However, the primary focus of the EPA is to make an operation compliant rather than close it. Nonetheless, it has closed operations in the past.
As well as the monitoring of individual premises, we are now doubling the number of air quality monitoring stations across the country. Therefore, it will be possible not only to look at the individual site, but also to see the trends regarding air quality right across the country. This information will be available on the EPA website.
I have listened to what the Deputy has said and I will pass on a copy of the transcript of this debate to the EPA and ask it to respond directly to the concerns he has raised in the House. As he knows, while the EPA is under my authority, I cannot direct it on this matter. It is not within my competence to do so because the legislation as set out and passed by the Oireachtas is that the EPA is entirely independent of the Department and I am constrained under the provisions of subsections 79(3) and 86(5) of the EPA Acts from becoming involved in any way in the licensing of installations. Nonetheless, I will ask the EPA to respond directly to today's debate.